Internet in Germany

As soon as you have just entered your brand new (empty) flat, there is only one thing you want to do, tell you all friend about it ! But how? You didn’t figured how to get internet in Germany yet, did you? You can’t mail your parents, nor your friends or that horrible aunt in Nevada. And how are you going to catch up on all those seasons of Games of Thrones/Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix? It’s time to figure this out.

Hot to set up your internet connection in Germany

The market of internet in Germany is like in many countries. It’s an oligopoly where a few service providers are sharing between them most of the users. The overall quality of infrastructure is however relatively poor for one of strongest powers in the world. Expect a 30€ bill on average for a broad-brand connection at about 16Mbits/s. Internet service providers in Germany all offer the same range of prices for comparable offers, with little disruption or competition between providers unfortunately. Elements that will make a difference is often customer service and line setup speed.

In general, don’t sign up for internet plans with bargains strongly advertised, they might come with strong drawbacks like a 2 year subscription or an undesired bundled package.  One important thing to understand is the role of Deutsche Telekom in setting up your internet in Germany.

Deutsche Telekom was once owning the monopoly of the phone network, and in consequence of the infrastructure. The company is still responsible today for keeping most of the network up to date. That’s the reason why that even if you sign up for another company than Deutsche Telekom, the company will still actually physically set your internet connection up if the network is its responsibility. (and charge you 69€ for opening a new line !). However, more and more of the network is managed by other telecommunication companies.

The process is fairly similar for all internet providers in Germany :

  1. Find the offer that you’d like to have
  2. Enter your address on their website to check for available speeds in your building
  3. Enter your personal information
  4. Wait for contract confirmation
  5. Receive your modems – Wifi Routers
  6. Wait for technician to open your line (up to 14 days)

Fairly often, you will need to pay for a one-time fee corresponding to the price of the router or other equipment being provided, and fees for “processing your contract”to finally open your contract with a German internet provider.

Internet in Germany: the different service providers

Have a look a tip 1 to compare plans to know what’s best for you.

1&1: Currently offering on the best internet connection in Germany, 1&1 has also reasonable ranges of prices and steady network performance up to 50Mbits/sec. The router provided with any internet connection is also very good quality.
Their basic offer is 16Mbits/sec for 14,99€.

o2:  Surely one the cheapest option around.I have heard a few complaints from acquaintances that it may not be the best customer service but you can get a good bundled deal if you are an o2 customer (o2 bought Alice out). Cheap options come with long term contract terms.
You can get a phone line and a 16Mbits/sec connection for 19,99€.

Telekom (Deutsche Telekom): The conventional/historical internet service provider in Germany running under the name T-home. It is often considered providing the best service quality and the best customer service.  It is also a bit more costly to get internet in Germany through them.
The basic offer starts at 16Mbits/sec for 29,95€

Vodafone: The British company also offers internet in Germany with complete packages (Phone, TV and internet) starting as cheap as 27,90€. Its network is however not as extensive as the other service providers.
It also offers interesting packages with mobile plans for 29,95€

Generally expect a 2 weeks delay until the line is up and running. If you are staying only for a semester or two, be careful not to sign up for a 2 year contract, as most of the internet service providers in Germany try to make you do. In that case, you can also sign-up for a monthly contract that you can cancel monthly as well, for a 2-3€ extra-cost.

What if i’m only staying temporarily in Germany?

If you need internet in Germany for only a few weeks or a few months, you should look for the keyword “Ohne Mindestlaufzeit” or “Ohne Mindestvertragslaufzeit” when looking at the different offers. This translates to “no minimum duration”. It means that you don’t commit to a yearly contract and you can cancel your contract at anytime. There is a little trick though; usually the cancellation notice time is 3 months, so make sure to let your German internet provider know in good enough time.

If you are staying in country for under a month, the best solution might be to turn to prepaid SIM cards with generous data plans or  so called”surf sticks” that let you know browse the internet via a USB dongle:

The state of the German internet infrastructure

I will make a deeper dive on this topic but in short; German telecom players and the government haven’t made the right investment decisions 20 years ago. When fiber optic had been identified as the next way to connect the country, Telekom pretty much stalled because of costs reasons, arguing that they could provide up to to 50 Mbit/s on old-fashion copper lines. The German government went with it and that’s why we have an noncompetitive, slow connection, ranking at 25th place worldwide, right behind Slovakia and Macau. Nowadays, fiber optics (if at all) is set-up until your district’s “verteiler” (distributor box), from where copper lines are starting to go into your building.

Even in the center of Berlin, the German capital, actual download speed is only up to 16Mbit/s, and i insist on the “up to”, because advertised speeds are most of the time not reached.

Tip 1: You might want to have a look at Preisvergleich.de or Check24 to compare all available plans for your location. This website allows you to get the cheapest plan for your needs. Just enter your postal code here or  there to verify your DSL availability and pick a plan among the ones offered to have internet in Germany.

Tip 2:  I have omitted numerous regional German internet service providers. They do offer competitive packages but be aware that you might not move your line in the case you are moving to another region or similar case.

Tip 3: You can use the very handy Youth HotSpot app that lists all the places where there is free Wifi until you set up your own internet connection in Germany. You can download the app on the PlayStore here and the AppStore here. Quite practical to start searching for flat or WGs. It’s edited by the Minister of Tourism, so it’s totally legit.

58 Comments

  • Reply Max 02/10/2020 at 12:45

    Hey everyone, thanks for all the information !

    Does the Anmeldung need to be at the address of the flat where the internet will be or not ? Per example, if I’m switching flats in Berlin, will I have to wait until I get my new anmeldung, or can I sign the internet contract with my previous anmeldung from my previous flat ?
    Asking because getting an anmeldung if you are subletting can take quite a while.

    Many thanks !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/10/2020 at 13:31

      Hey Max. No it’s not necessary.

  • Reply Anonymous 26/06/2020 at 11:23

    Thanks a lot to you for sharing these best of German internet data plans… I am new here in Germany and was looking for a good data plan for my internet connection… really appreciative and useful blog for us.

  • Reply Smith George 29/04/2020 at 11:28

    Thanks for being amazing, it’s a great experience to be here, keep up the good work

  • Reply Ya' 19/12/2019 at 19:01

    Hi, thanks for the info. I am relocating to Berlin to an apartment without wifi, and I am wondering if there are any home wifi service providers that allow you to activate a new connection with, say, a North American credit card rather than a European bank account. (I am moving from North America and I tried opening a N26 account it turns out I cannot get my account number until I arrive in Germany.) Alternatively, what is the best deal on a dongle or pay-as-you-go data for home surfing for the 2 to 4 weeks it will take me to get my connection once I order it after arrival? I would ideally like to have around 40 to 60 Gb for that time without breaking the bank!

  • Reply Paula 16/12/2019 at 14:38

    Hi! I live in a flat, the landlord tells me there’s no Telekommunikationsanschluss, just a Kabelanschluss. Is it still possible to get a package from e.g. 1&1? Or should I get in touch with someone else to install a Telekommunikationsanschluss first?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:22

      Hey Paula. I just assume you’d need go with a cable provider then? You can always try to enter your address on their website to see if you are eligible…

  • Reply Gerda Kempf Meller 23/11/2019 at 13:07

    I have a 3 line service, including a FAX. All incoming calls go first to the fax and not to the answering machine. How can I reverse this

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:47

      Get in touch with your provider’s customer support.

  • Reply Cedric 12/09/2019 at 10:52

    Hello,

    I’ll be moving to a new apartment soon and in the rental contract is a fee of 12 euros per month called “die Nutzungsgebühr für Vodafone-Kabelanschluss beträgt monatlich”. I don’t understand what this Vodafone-Kabelgebühren is about. Can anyone explain to me?

  • Reply Liam 14/08/2019 at 18:19

    Hey Guys!

    Just wanted to know if anyone has ideas on why although I was on 100mbps/50mbps back in Australia, I’d be downloading a 3gb file in around 12mins or so, but here (Berlin/Mostly Nürnberg), I went to an internet cafe and did a speed test – it said i was receiving 450mbps/15mbps but it would likely have taken 3hours or so at the very least to download. I need to find a plan or at least a short term solution (perhaps a uni? or other place someone could briefly access fast internet?) that will allow me to download big files and edit them for work. But is seeming like it will be much more difficult then i first thought (just assumed Germany had fast internet, or so ads back home had me believe…). If anyone could offer up any suggestions (hopefully inexpensive) it would be invaluable!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:45

      Hey Liam, I’d direct to this post to understand why it’s so bad. Welcome to Germany!

  • Reply Marco Vassena 27/07/2019 at 22:41

    Most internet providers (1&1, Vodafone, Telekom) only offer fixed 24 months deals.
    Only O2 seems to offer a tariff without term (Tarif ohne Laufzeit).

    • Reply Olly 09/01/2020 at 14:01

      1&1 also have tarife ohne laufzeit

  • Reply Alexandros 10/02/2019 at 19:36

    Hello everyone,

    I have a question about the TAE socket for DSL.
    From the internet provider (1&1) I was asked to have TAE socket, but I have only ethernet in the house. Will an adapter work?
    Did anyone had a previous experience?

    Really messy to settle in Berlin, at least there is this site!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2019 at 09:54

      Hey Alexandros. I guess that’s a more technical question that you can ask them directly.

  • Reply Paul 29/01/2019 at 13:59

    Hey Bastien,
    I have a question, I took a package from 1&1 and got everything, line search and technician, until he say that the circuit line between the flat and the basement is gone. In that case, what to do ? Do I need to talk to 1&1 to get a server connected to the TV socket instead of telephone one ?
    Thanks a lot for your answer.
    Best, Paul

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:09

      MMM, that’s shit. Sorry to hear about that. You need to ask them how much it would cost to have a line setup again. But of course, if you can do through cable, then you may want to go with Kabel Deutschland or a provider like that.

  • Reply Leandro 05/11/2018 at 17:02

    6 (SIX!) weeks ago I ordered the 1 & 1 internet package. I’ve been impatiently waiting since then and weekly receiving emails saying they still don’t know when the connection will be activated. A colleague moved onto the same street and had an activation date before me even if he ordered 3 weeks after me. It’s so frustrating. A German friend called their customers service twice and they still cannot estimate a date for that and the reason for such long wait. In fact, services suck in this country and the internet network is just another common issue everyone faces.

  • Reply Henry 11/10/2018 at 11:56

    “The overall quality of infrastructure is excellent”… are you serious?
    Germans are car manufacturers… they know Mechanical stuff so good …but in everything else, they are very bad at it including customer service… they are so bad at it, that most Mercedes Benzes are actually advertised and sold by other European countries for them..
    They can’t even offer such thing as either “telephone call” or “internet”…
    Everyone knows this in the world before coming to Germany… it is basic knowledge..
    And now that I have come to Germany I see the truth but I don’t know what you mean by that surprising statement…
    Is that a compliment of some sort for Germans?!
    Common, we shouldn’t compliment but tell the truth as you always do very well in other cases…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/10/2018 at 10:08

      Hey Henry. That’s very good feedback indeed. I’m preparing an update to this post and a follow-up on why the internet is so bad in this country.

  • Reply Wurtz 28/06/2018 at 23:46

    “The overall quality of infrastructure is excellent” XD to which countries are you comparing? Nepal?

    I’ve never had that bad Internet experience before and I come from eastern Europe.

    I’m talking about few months of waiting for connecting and after I finally have it: regular disconnects at peak times (on weekends and evenings, sometimes even every 2 minutes) probably due to this “excellent” infrastracture in overpopulated areas.

    • Reply AMused 30/04/2020 at 23:22

      reunification, took its toll
      you have nice Haus with crappy streets in former West, whereas the now,
      you have former communists with nice internet and bathrooms in somewhat
      dilapidated infrastructure

  • Reply Arnaud 07/11/2017 at 08:46

    Hi,
    Awesome website, very very useful.
    I tried to get Cable internet with vodaphone but was rejected because I only have a Luxembourg IBAN. (I also have german Anmeldung)
    They told me a German Bank account with EC-Karte is mandatory.
    I checked your article about opening a bank account and found that N26 would be the more convinient bank, but they only provide a Mastercard, not EC-Karte.
    Any idea if a N26 bank account with Mastercard would allow me to get internet with Vodaphone ? Or any other provider ?

    Thanks a lot !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/11/2017 at 18:03

      N26 also provide a debit card (Maestro) that fits most EC Karte use cases.

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